The world craves renewable energy and Quebec has an established expertise. Now that the province is opening up to various energy sources, such as hydrogen, the industry is calling for concrete action.
Posted at 8:00am
The renewable energy sector is currently doing well in Quebec. “It’s boiling,” said Gabriel Durany, president of the Quebec Association for the production of sustainable energy (AQPER). “In general, we are in a period with good prospects. Companies are involved and very optimistic. †
Nicolas Letendre, president of Letenda, a Quebec-based manufacturer of zero-emission buses, is also feeling the craze. “We come up with the right product at the right time,” he exults.
Quebec’s first major expertise is clearly in hydroelectricity. Over a century old, the market is very mature. “We tend to forget it, but biomass cogeneration is one of our strengths,” emphasizes Gabriel Durany. The province has also developed in-depth wind energy expertise in recent years.
The liquid biofuels sector, such as hydrogen, will need to accelerate. “We made some very important gestures this year. We feel that there is a real desire to generate activity,” emphasizes the president of the AQPER.
Nicolas Letendre, for his part, notes that the province can count on a very well-developed education system in this sector. “Research centers are ready to partner with companies for technology transfer. We also have a qualified labor pool,” he says. He adds that many countries are jealous of our network of grants for research and development.
… and challenges
Without wanting to play with words, Gabriel Durany believes we are “missing the boat” when it comes to finding solutions for the maritime and aerospace industry. “There is a tendency to disregard low-carbon kerosene. However, we have an aviation cluster in Montreal. †
However, the worst results come from solar energy. “We are completely at a standstill, Gabriel Durany laments. Meanwhile, Vermont — which has the same climate and roughly the same energy profile as us — is announcing new partners every year. †
The president of Letenda, for his part, finds it difficult to find investors who know the sector well.
A financial ecosystem better adapted to our industry would help us do that. The alignment between the needs, the solution and the use of sustainable development projects also needs to be refined.
Nicolas Letendre, President of Letenda
This comment prompted Jean-François Béland, vice president of Ressources Québec, a subsidiary of Investissement Québec. “Clean energy is in some cases less than 100 years old, but the expertise is growing, even if the community is very small,” he says.
According to him, the problem stems mainly from the fact that in Quebec we “only know hydropower”. “Between technical reality and financial knowledge, despite the risk factors, more and more tools exist. †
Resources Québec has also implemented an energy strategy based on development pillars since last fall. “We are not called upon to invest in recognized areas, but rather in energy sectors that have a future here and need capital,” emphasizes Jean-François Béland. For example, solar energy can benefit from this initiative.
Reducing greenhouse gases is a global problem, Nicolas Letendre recalls. So the competition is global. “Everyone wants to offer their solutions. This is no longer just a matter of young shoots. Even large companies are switching to renewable energy,” he notes.
What makes to say to Gabriel Durany that it is necessary to return to basics. “We are all doing this for the climate. The performance index is the reduction of greenhouse gases,” assures the one who thinks the discussion is poorly entrenched. “Because we tell them our electricity is green, people forget that fossil fuels make up 60% of our energy consumption. It’s a problem,” he emphasizes.
Jean-François Béland agrees.
The drag on renewable energy in Quebec is energy costs. When the population pays the real price of energy, we will see innovative solutions emerge.
Jean-François Béland, Vice President of Resources Quebec
Despite everything, the leader of AQPER remains optimistic. “Increasing production of sustainable energy is within our reach. However, if we are to succeed in meeting the ambitious 2030 target, we must mobilize money and expertise and take action. †
For Gabriel Durany, this means deploying initiatives in a predictable way so that “investors deposit the hundreds of millions needed to build low-carbon fuel plants, hydrogen plants, solar farms, cogeneration plants, biomass, wind farms…” All this, while respecting the specific features of the regions.
“You have to see renewable energy as a terroir. Every region has its possibilities. There is no one solution,” said Mr. Durany.